Public Lands

2020 in the Courts: A Preview

Some major new cases will be filed; older ones will result in major decisions.

There are going to be some significant environmental cases over the next year. In addition, some important new cases will be filed now or in the near future, which may have produced some interesting rulings. It will probably take more than a year, however, for some of the big new cases down the turnpike to …

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LA Metro’s Transit to Parks Strategic Plan

A beneficial but incomplete solution to address lack of access to open spaces for disadvantaged communities

I previously wrote about the potential to generate greater support for environmental initiatives, by improving community engagement with the natural environment. One mechanism to improve community engagement in this manner is quite simple: make it easier for people to access parks and open spaces. Access is a widespread issue in Los Angeles, as many residents …

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The Pro-Environmental Lochner Court

How a conservative Court defended environmental protection a century ago.

Like today’s Court, the Supreme Court a century ago was dominated by conservatives. The Lochner era, from around 1900 to 1935, was named after the most notorious case of that period. The Lochner case, which struck down a maximum hours law for workers, epitomized the conservative Supreme Court of that era.  Yet that conservative Court …

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Warren’s public lands policy proposal

The Senator’s policy proposals have a lot of good points, but could be even better

Senator Elizabeth Warren has become famous for her policy plan documents as she runs for President. A few months ago, she released a new one focusing on public lands. The key points in her plan include: A moratorium on all new fossil fuel leasing on federal public lands Providing 10% of US renewable energy from …

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Public Lands Watch: Forest Service proposes NEPA regulatory revisions

Forest Service proposes revisions to NEPA regulations to increase exemptions for logging and other projects

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has long been a lightning rod for debates over public land management.  NEPA requires federal agencies to fully analyze and publicly disclose the environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions that significantly affect the environment, including analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives and a response to public comments.  …

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The Forgotten Environmental Legacy of Jimmy Carter

Carter saved millions of acres of wilderness, signed the Superfund law, and began the renewables revolution.

Many people today know Jimmy Carter as an ex-President who has strongly advocated for human rights. His Presidency is probably best remembered for the Iranian Hostage crisis. His post-presidential career was at least as notable as his time in the White House. Historians find his presidency flawed by micro-management and lack of rapport with the …

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The evolving law of state protection of environmental resources on federal lands

Recent cases may expand the scope of states to protect environmental resources on federal public lands

One theme in environmental law and policy over the past two years has been an increasing conflict between states and the federal government – with a range of states (particularly those with Democratic governors and legislatures) challenging the federal government on environmental matters and seeking to be more aggressive in protecting the environment. One flashpoint …

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What Do Dems Think about Climate Policy?

The candidates are united on some issues, but divided or equivocal on others.

Yesterday, the Washington Post published a survey of the Democratic candidates’ positions on climate change.  The differences between candidates probably don’t have a lot of immediate policy relevance, given the political and legal constraints on what a new president could accomplish. But they are very revealing about the direction of the Democratic Party today. The …

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In Defense of Live Carbon

Why Stopping Deforestation May be the Hardest and Most Important Part of the Climate Change Challenge

When contemplating the enormous challenge of global climate change, it is sometimes helpful to think about a simple model of the global carbon budget (see figure below).  These admittedly reductionist schematics distinguish between sources, sinks, and reservoirs.  Fossil hydrocarbons from the geological reservoir–call this dead carbon—are extracted and burned to generate energy, emitting vast amounts …

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Getting Lost In The Woods?

New Study From India Points to Dangers From Forestry Sector Emissions Trading

Despite the Trump Administration’s dedication to melting the planet, the rest of the world is gamely pushing ahead with implementing the Paris Accord, and that means programs like United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The two are linked, because …

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